Mini stroke recovery should be taken seriously.
Because it’s a major warning sign that a full-blown stroke is coming.
Understanding Mini Stroke Recovery
If you had a mini stroke, we’ve outlined 7 things you must know about recovery, including how to reduce your risk of another stroke.
Let’s dive straight in.
1. Mini Stroke Is also Called a TIA
A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is the formal name used to describe a mini stroke.
There are two types of stroke: hemorrhagic stroke and ischemic stroke.
Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a burst artery. Ischemic stroke is caused by a clogged artery (like the photo below). A TIA is very similar to an ischemic stroke.
Unlike a regular ischemic stroke, however, a TIA is a temporary blockage that leads to no permanent damage.
That’s why it’s called a “mini stroke.”
However, it should still be taken very seriously.
2. Mini Stroke Symptoms Are the Same as Regular Strokes
A TIA has the same symptoms as a regular stroke.
The National Stroke Association has summarized these symptoms in the acronym FAST.
Here’s how you can identify a stroke or mini stroke:
F – Face. Ask them to smile, and if half their smile droops, it might be a stroke.
A – Arms. Ask them to raise both arms and if one drifts downward, it might be a stroke.
S – Speech. Ask them to talk, and if they slur or talk gibberish, it might be a stroke.
T – Time. If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Although TIA symptoms usually last less than 5 minutes, it’s still a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
3. Mini Stroke Recovery Time Is Short
After a TIA, the blood clot dissolves on its own or gets dislodged, blood flow is often quickly restored in the brain.
Again, just because TIA is brief and results in no permanent damage doesn’t mean it should be dismissed.
4. Beware that Mini Stroke Is a Warning for Another “Full-Blown” Stroke
A mini stroke is a warning sign that another stroke could be coming.
Up to 40% of TIA patients will have another stroke after their TIA, according to the National Stroke Association.
And nearly half of these patients will have another stroke within 2 days of the mini stroke.
That’s why stroke prevention becomes critical after a mini stroke (which we will discuss soon).
5. Know Your Stroke Risk Factors
There are many factors that can increase your risk of stroke.
Some of them are out of your control, but some of them are manageable.
Inherent stroke risk factors are:
- Prior stroke or TIA
- History of heart attack
- Genetic disorders like CADASIL
- Age (risk of stroke doubles every decade past 55)
- Gender (women are at higher risk)
Although you cannot reverse these stroke risk factors, there are other stroke risk factors that you CAN control.
6. Know What You Can Control
There are several stroke risk factors that you can work to control, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
All of these risk factors increase the likelihood that another blood clot will get clogged in an artery in the brain and cause a stroke.
Reducing these risks is critical for all mini stroke survivors.
7. Take Action to Help Prevent Another Stroke
To help reduce your risk of recurrent stroke, you can reduce your manageable stroke risk factors.
Some things you can do are:
- Reduce high blood pressure with medication or lifestyle changes
- Quit smoking if you’re a smoker
- Manage diabetes with medication and/or lifestyle changes
- Reduce high blood cholesterol and atherosclerosis with medication and/or dietary changes
- Eat healthy foods that promote recovery after stroke
You should talk to your primary care physician about the best way to reduce your risk of stroke because (s)he knows your medical history.
8. Focus on Prevention for Mini Stroke Treatment
Treatment for mini stroke is all about prevention.
Since the risk of recurrent stroke is high, your doctor might put you on medication to reduce your risk of stroke.
Some common treatments for TIA are:
- Blood-thinning medications like aspirin for stroke prevention
- Cholesterol medication if you have high cholesterol
- Surgery to remove blockages in the carotid artery if this is where the TIA formed
The goal is to prevent the chance of another blood clot clogging an artery in the brain.
9. Make Appropriate Lifestyle Changes
A TIA is a major warning that another stroke might occur.
Work with your doctor to develop a plan to reduce your risk of stroke. Medication is often helpful.
There are steps that you can take on your own, also, that can help reduce your risk of stroke.
The two biggest steps are eating better and exercising more.
Ensuring Good Health During Mini Stroke Recovery
Overall, mini strokes resolve themselves quickly and lead to a fully recovery.
However, they still require immediate medical attention and swift action.
Stroke prevention becomes very important since many TIAs are followed by another stroke.
Work with your doctor and medical team to assess your stroke risk factors and handle them appropriately.